Saturday, December 25, 2010

STRATOVARIUS' Cancer-Stricken Drummer: 'Let's Get Alive And Kicking Once Again'

STRATOVARIUS' German drummer Jörg Michael, who was was recently diagnosed with cancer and had his entire thyroid removed, has issued the following update:

"I hope this message finds everybody well and everybody is in an easy-peasy Christmas mood already.

"The first leg of the European tour with HELLOWEEN is over — time to have a few words with you.

"First of all, let's not forget the brilliant emergency rescue action and playing of Alex [Landenburg; AT VANCE, ANNIHILATOR, MEKONG DELTA]. Thanks again for all what you did for the fans, the band and also for me.

"Surely I hate the idea of somebody is sitting on 'my chair,' but this special action needed some special treatment and I am proud and happy that it was you, Alex. Thanks again; we'll get together for a real drink, not like these other Scandinavian pussies in the band :-)

"I was overwhelmed by all the wishes, tons of emails and text messages I received from all over the world wishing me a speedy recovery. Thank you so much for supporting me, and it made me feel very strong when fighting these bastards inside of me.

"I have some good news to tell you and believe me — I really enjoy to tell the world:

"The surgery was done about six weeks ago and the first therapy is done as well. All looks good so far and as Jens [Johansson, STRATOVARIUS keyboardist] told me before: 'Do not worry, Jörg, nothing survives in your body after all what you did to it!'

"Finally he was right, there are only small bits and bobs left — I will fight those with another therapy in about four months' time.

"I think I have been very lucky that it was discovered by one of my friends in a very early state. Very good that my friend decided to become a doctor; he was very lousy when he tried playing the guitar.

"Besides preparing myself for Christmas, I am currently practicing the drums to be ready and kickin' again when the tour continues in the New Year. I will be back.

"Thanks again for everything and let's get alive and kicking once again.

"See you in Paris and everywhere else."

STRATOVARIUS will release its thirteenth full-length studio album, "Elysium", in Asia on January 12, 2011 via JVC and in the rest of the world on January 14, 2011 through earMUSIC/Edel.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DREAM THEATER Keyboardist Schedules Solo Date

DREAM THEATER keyboardist extraordinaire Jordan Rudess has announced an exciting and rare solo appearance on Sunday, January 23 at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York with special guest DREAM THEATER vocalist James LaBrie. Along with Turkish prodigy Eren Basbug, Rudess will debut his composition "Explorations" on two keyboards.

"Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra" was first premiered with two shows on one night, November 19, in Caracas, Venezuela. During these sold-out performances in Venezuela, Basbug conducted the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra while Rudess played all of the keyboard/synthesizer parts. It is Rudess' first orchestral composition, and the January 23 Tarrytown show will mark the first time it is played live on only two keyboards. At the show, Rudess will also highlight his acclaimed Billboard-award winning app (2010) MorphWiz.

Rudess and friends will also be performing two keyboard renditions of music by DREAM THEATER, LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT and more. In addition, Eyal Amir and Ray Livnat from Israel's PROJECT RNL will be joining Rudess for a new creative version of PROJECT RNL's song "Wake".

Tickets go on sale to the public on this Friday, December 24. They are currently available for Tarrytown Music Hall members only. Tickets range from $25 to $65 each. Note: the first 25 buyers of the $65.00 tickets — for an additional $20 — will be able to meet Jordan and his guests after the show. Tickets can be purchased through the Tarrytown Music Hall's web site.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gazpacho Sign to Kscope Records

Kscope is pleased to announce the latest signing to our roster, Norwegian act Gazpacho.

Gazpacho were formed in Oslo in 1996 by childhood friends Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen along with Jan-Henrik Ohme (later joined by Mikael Krømer, Lars Eric Asp and Kristian Torp), and have spent the last 15 years honing their unique sound over a string of critically acclaimed albums and numerous tours, including several with long-time supporters Marillion.

Until this point all the band’s releases have either been self-released or on Marillion’s Racket Records label but the band have now signed to Kscope who are set to give an international release to the band’s latest album Missa Atropos, which has previously only been available in Germany.

Front man Jan Henrik Ohme has explained that the band have made the decision to ’get our music out to our fans around the world, and we're all looking forward to working with such an excellent group of people’.

Jon-Arne Vilbo adds, ‘we will be joining bands such as Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Blackfield, to mention a few, which is the perfect fit for Gazpacho while staying true to the term: “different music”. We believe Kscope understand who our fans are and understand how to reach out to them. So… while they’re phoning their bank to borrow gazillions for their promo budget, we hope our new friends will help us in bringing you the music that you crave.’

The Kscope edition of Missa Atropos will be available in February 2011 and will come packaged in a deluxe digibook.

Sign up to the Gazpacho mailing list at for more details.

NEARfest Announces Friday Night Lineup

NEARfest is proud to present, a break for your pockets and a treat for your ears. Three outstanding bands, all the future-present of progressive music and all ready to tear it up on the Zoellner stage. Toronto Canada's Half Past Four, Illinois's own Von Frickle and Finland's Jeavestone will split the evening, each providing their own spin on progressive/art rock.
Half Past Four's style is hard to describe as the group does not restrict itself to following one specific genre. The musicians concern themselves with what they do best - writing and performing a free spirited, never before played chord structures and melodies. Experimental arrangement, fusion composition, polyrhythmic structures and atonal melodies are not uncommon in their music. Drawing its inspiration from stalwarts such as King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull as well as many other progressive, kraut, art and math-rock bands, Half Past Four takes pride and pleasure in taking art rock a little further and planting its seeds in the harsh soil of contemporary popular culture.
Von Frickle, an instrumental band that are inclined to full experimentation as well as to sound streams and beautiful melodies. Everything in their music creates the "stereotype" of unique music, a heavy listen which translates into a tremendous experience. Drawing from such influences as Zappa, Pink Floyd and the Dregs, the band still maintains an air of originality via their expression of aggressive, modern art rock. Von Frickle's use of theatrics further enhances their live experience; projections, expressionless masks and white suits act as the norm for this eclectic group.
Jeavestone was formed in 1999 and released their first self-financed EP in 2001. The first full length album "Mind The Soup" was released in 2005 and they played their first gigs outside Finland in July 2006 when they performed at the Burg Herzberg Festival and at the Freakshow Artrock Festival in Germany. It was their 2nd album "Spices, Species and Poetry Petrol" released in 2008, that Jeavestone found its identity. Their self imposed style deemed "eclectic prog" or "prog'n'roll, features an amalgam of influences from '70s classic prog acts like Gentle Giant and King Crimson combined with modern sounding rock. There is no shortage of humor in their musical approach which can be likened to the insanity of Zappa and Beardfish. Their instrumentation spans from traditional rock combo on the first album to the extensive use of woodwind and string instruments on their subsequent releases. Their latest release entitled "1+1=OK," continues their tradition, it is a fantastic slice of psychadelicartprog.
NEARfest is very excited to bring to you the diversity that has been our trademark. This "Night of the New Progressives" will thrill you all both musically and financially, a showcase for new bands at a great value. Half Past Four, Von Frickle and Jeavestone will make for a memorable NEARfest Friday night.

Steve Morse To Re-Release 3 Solo Albums In January 2011

Steve Morse is best known for being the current guitarist of Deep Purple, replacing Ritchie Blackmore back in 1993. But his passion for rock started long before joining the legendary British group. Out of all the musical endeavors he participated in, the Steve Morse Band is perhaps the most significant and personal one. This instrumental trio is well known for re-inventing rock in all possible ways, mixing it with jazz, country, funk and even bluegrass.

“High Tension Wires” (1989), “Southern Steel” (1991) and “Coast to Coast” (1992) are to this day considered some of the finest albums Steve Morse has ever released. Metal Mind Productions is proud to present the exclusive reissues of those three albums which bring back true classics of one of the world’s most talented rock guitarists…
Steve Morse was born on July 28th, 1954 in Hamilton, Ohio. Although he was learning to play piano and clarinet at that time, guitar ultimately became his instrument of choice. After his family moved to Augusta, Georgia, Morse and his older brother formed a band called Three. The group existed until Morse got enrolled in the Academy of Richmond County, where he met bassist Andy West, with whom he started the musical project initially called the Dixie Grit. The group did not last long, mostly because covering Led Zeppelin or Cream was not widely appreciated by the mainstream audiences at that time. After graduating from the school, Morse and West wanted to continue playing, officially naming their band Dixie Dregs. At one of their performances, they got noticed by Capricorn Records recruiters and, in late 1976, the label offered the group a record deal. Dixie Dregs’ first LP – “Free Fall” – was released in 1977 and, although it received great reviews, the album sales were rather poor. A similar situation occurred after the release of the group’s sophomore offering – “What If” – in 1978. In July, Dixie Dregs got the opportunity to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Their performance was recorded and released the following year as “Night of the Living Dregs”. Soon after that, their label went bankrupt and the band signed a new deal with Arista Records, which released three of their albums – “Dregs of the Earth” (1980), “Unsung heroes” (1981) and “Industry Standard” (1982), the latter being voted “Best Guitar LP” by readers of Guitar Player magazine (Morse was also voted “Best Overall Guitarist” by the same magazine – he managed to maintain that title for five consecutive years before ultimately joining the “Gallery of Greats”, an honor shared only by Steve Howe of Yes). The group disbanded in early 1983, tired of constant touring and label pressure. This became a perfect opportunity for Morse to put his own band together. With the addition of bassist Jerry Peek and drummer Doug Morgan, the first incarnation of the Steve Morse Band was born. After Rod Morgenstein replaced Morgan, the group began working on their debut album in early 1984. Later that year, the band signed to Elektra Records and released “The Introduction”. A second album – “Stand Up” - was released in 1985. 1989 saw the release of Morse's third solo effort entitled “High Tension Wires”, one of the most laid back albums in the guitarist's catalogue. Morse managed to gather the classic Dregs line-up on this offering – the musicians even performed one of their songs called “Leprechaun Promenade”. The rest of the LP was an eclectic mix of various genres, with such highlights as “Highland Wedding” and “Tumeni Notes”. In 1986, Morse took some time off his solo work and joined the rock group Kansas. He recorded two LPs with them – “Power” (1986) and “In The Spirit of Things” (1988). After the promotional tour for the latter album, Morse left the band and, for a short while, the music industry in general. He returned in 1991 with a brand new record released under the Steve Morse Band moniker – “Southern Steel”. The album was a medley of various styles such as rock, jazz, country and folk, combined with a wonderful southern rock vibe. The LP featured a guest performance by guitarist Jeff Watson (ex-Night Ranger) in the opening track “Cut to the Chase” and was considered one of the highlights of Steve’s solo career.“Southern Steel” was followed in 1992 by another album – “Coast to Coast”. Steve’s fifth solo offering was a bit more explorative than his previous LP, again delivering a variety of styles ranging from bluegrass (“Runway Train”) to classical music (“Flat Baroque”). In 1993, during Deep Purple’s tour promoting their “The Battle Rages On” album, long-time guitarist Ritchie Blackmore decided to leave the group. He was temporarily replaced by Joe Satriani but, after the tour was finished, Deep Purple needed to find another replacement. They chose Morse, who became the band’s permanent member and, since then, recorded four studio albums with them – “Purpendicular” (1996), “Abandon” (1998), “Bananas” (2003) and “Rapture of the Deep” (2005). After recording over fifty albums overall, Steve Morse still continues his solo career. His last effort, “Out Standing In Their Field”, was released in November 2009.

The exclusive reissues of “High Tension Wires”, “Southern Steel” and “Coast to Coast” showcase the remarkable talent of this guitar virtuoso. For fans of good old rock music, these albums are absolutely essential. The albums will be available in a new digipak edition each limited to 2000 copies. Metal Mind Productions set the release date for 31st January 2011.

Source: MetalMind

Mike Portnoy Rebuffed By Dream Theater Lawyers

Ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy has revealed that he made a recent attempt to rejoin his former bandmates but was rebuffed by the group he formed and led for 25 years. Writing on his official forum, Portnoy states, "Just for the record, this is indeed true..

"Fairly recently, I reached out to the guys to try and make amends and offered to reconcile for the sake of having peace back in our lives… (plus I know how much it meant to a lot of the fans…)

"I figured it was still possible to try and save us, because they hadn't made any announcements yet or begun any public activity with another drummer… but sadly, they declined my offer (well, actually their lawyer did… they didn't even tell me themselves….)

"Sorry, gang, I honestly gave it my all…

"So now the fans on my Twitter and Facebook can please stop asking me to go back to DREAM THEATER… I tried, and the door is now shut… The ball is now in their court, not mine…

"I'm not crying or looking for mercy by posting this… I am merely trying to set the record straight as that is always the most important thing about my relationship with you guys… No BS, no spins, nothing to hide… and for better or for worse, I tell it like it is… I've also recently seen some people accuse my online activity of 'looking for attention or media coverage,' or 'looking for sympathy,' but it's honestly none of the above… I merely value having an open and active communication with my fans… Always have, always will… It is the cornerstone of everything I've done since day #1 with DREAM THEATER…

"This was posted here FOR YOU GUYS to know about... here on MY message board on MY website... If it ends up on Blabbermouth or wherever else, that is THEIR choice to spread, I did not request it or send out a 'press release'...

"Anyways, onward and upward...

"I've got a lot of great music and ideas waiting to come out of me and alot of exciting collaborations in the goodbye 2010...bring on 2011!"

AVENGED SEVENFOLD issued a statement late on Friday (December 17) regarding the dismissal of Portnoy, who played on the band's latest album, "Nightmare", and toured with them during the past year following the death last December of original drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan. The band's statement read in part, "For the past few months, we've been blessed with Mike Portnoy's talent and humanity. When Mike agreed to tour with us, it was only through the end of 2010. We always knew we'd need to find another solution for 2011 and beyond. And it's time for us to take that next step."

As for why Portnoy himself was not their man, the statement said, "[Portnoy] is a brilliant writer, producer and, of course, drummer. Because of that, the world and we would always see it as AVENGED SEVENFOLD with Mike Portnoy. We take a lot of pride in AVENGED SEVENFOLD being about something greater then any individuals."

Portnoy himself broke the news via his Facebook page on Thursday, following several days of rumors about his status.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD frontman M. Shadows told The Pulse Of Radio that the band was not happy about the public way in which Portnoy's split with DREAM THEATER was played out, which may have soured Portnoy's relationship with AVENGED. "We were actually a little more shocked," M. Shadows said. "We felt that maybe both parties could have handled it a little more internally without being so press release-happy about what had happened between them. Because we're a band that, really, when it comes to news all over web sites or this or that about bands, you know, we don't tweet much, we don't try to put ourselves out that much, and all the drama and controversy wasn't something that we wanted at all."

In an interview over the weekend with LA Weekly, AVENGED manager Larry Jacobson said, "The plan had always been for Mike Portnoy to play with the band through 2010. Nothing changed there but it was confusing (because) Mike gave interviews suggesting he may be touring with the band beyond 2010."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

AVENGED SEVENFOLD Manager: Plan Was Always For PORTNOY To Play With Band Only Through 2010

AVENGED SEVENFOLD manager Larry Jacobson has told LA Weekly's "West Coast Sound" blog that there is no correlation between drummer Mike Portnoy's departure from the band and the cancelation of the group's participation in the Australian Soundwave festival. He writes, "The plan had always been for Mike Portnoy to play with the band through 2010. Nothing changed there but it was confusing [because] Mike gave interviews suggesting he may be touring with the band beyond 2010. There will be another drummer behind the kit for the band's 'Nightmare After Christmas' tour [in January/February] as well as for the many other dates around the world that are underway into 2011 and beyond. As for Australia, the timing is completely unrelated. If you've read any of the juvenile and public attacks by the [Soundwave] promoter, you can probably figure out why the band had legitimate doubts they could work with him to be able to put on the professional show their fans
expect. They're not in Australia every day so each tour needs to be the best the band has to offer."

AVENGED SEVENFOLD issued a statement yesterday explaining that "we know we are not ready to add another permanent member of AVENGED SEVENFOLD [following last year's passing of drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan]. We don't know if we will ever be. But if we do, it will only be with someone who is not only a brilliant drummer, but also someone we've gotten to know well on the road and off, and who you the fans have had a chance to get to know, and hopefully accept. In other words, in this family, we take these steps together, band and our extended fan family."

The group added, "Mike and the band agree that can't be him. Why? Long before there was an AVENGED SEVENFOLD, there were members of this band who looked up to Mike and, in Jimmy's case, learned a lot from watching Mike play. He is a brilliant writer, producer and, of course, drummer. Because of that, the world and we would always see it as AVENGED SEVENFOLD with Mike Portnoy."

AVENGED SEVENFOLD is slated to hit the road in the U.S. next month as part of the "Nightmare After Christmas" tour, along with STONE SOUR and HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD.

James Sullivan, AVENGED SEVENFOLD's founding drummer, was found dead in his California home last December 28 of a fatal mixture of drugs and alcohol.